I believe there are times when it becomes necessary to state deliberately and unequivocally the basis for one’s belief. A person, an organization, a Church, a nation, or people must make a ‘Declaration’ so that all people know exactly where we stand in relation to all others. In doing so it must be acknowledged and accepted that some will offer affirmation and others will not. This is what happened when our forefathers wrote The Declaration of Independence. Our Catholic “Declaration” is our Creed: our core beliefs. When you truly believe what you ‘declare’ you will speak with authority to those around you. A more convincing way of ‘speaking’ or declaring with authority though, is to actually live what you say you believe… (I’d rather see a sermon than hear one…)
I often wonder at times what things people see in me, what my actions and my statements say about who I am and what I believe. Does my behavior “speak with authority” about being Christian? Do I live and speak my faith with authority, declaring it in the many communities in which I live and work and play? Jesus was a surprise to the people around Him in His teaching and His works because He shined with the light of truth in every way. Do my words and actions proclaim me a true Christian? We have our Creed; but maybe a declaration from each of us would help us stand stronger in our faith. A friend sent this to me and I would like to share with you a: “Declaration of Dependence.”
I believe in one God, His son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit, who since before time began offered His creation an avenue to be made worthy to be with Him forever. I believe that God is Creator and we are His creations; that Jesus is Messiah, our Savior; and our dependence is completely upon them. I believe that it is God’s task to add to His church and determine who goes to Heaven or Hell, not mine. I believe that God’s directions are in His Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I believe that being Christ-like begins with understanding that by ourselves we are unworthy; That all must be treated with love, mercy and compassion; that repenting of our sin is both attitude and action; that baptism is the acknowledgement of obedience to God and that telling others of Jesus is an opportunity and responsibility. I believe that Baptism is the beginning of the journey and not the end. This Declaration of Dependence is the continuation of my journey and not the end.
Sometimes making a declaration in the midst of our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers is scary and uncomfortable—and all of us do tend to gravitate towards the comfortable. We all get into patterns and routines and before long we don't like to vary from them, or think about them, or shake the boat we ride in together. We know though, that nothing with worth or value is ever easy, and that we all seem to learn best through the hard stuff…We all get into habits and find it hard to break from that habit (habits of not standing up to injustice, unkindness, apathy…). There are studies that tell us that doing something wrong twice may form a wrong habit; but that you have to do things correctly seventy times to make a good habit. (Geez, God, really?) So, what is it that others see in us through our habits and patterns? What is it that you see in yourself because of these habits and patterns? Have you ever taken the time to reflect upon the messages you send because of your habits and patterns in life?
My advice: Awake to righteousness! Except for a few New Year resolutions and maybe an occasional reconciliation, many of us don't really take the time to evaluate our life behaviors. This is definitely not a new problem, it is rooted in human nature. As we continue on in these first few weeks of this New Year it is a good, opportune time to “awake to righteousness” and notice the messages our patterns and habits proclaim to others. How about we take a look at what our life proclaims and tune it to God's will and purposes? How about letting our life and decisions speak with authority for those around us?
Every day is a new day, a new opportunity for our lives to proclaim God’s saving love and grace. We are called: to hear God’s Word (spoken with authority), and to respond—so harden not your hearts! We are called: to answer and witness our life in Christ with authority for those around you—to declare our dependence on God. Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note: An interesting musical link: https://www.pcchoirs.org